Monday, September 25, 2017

My Thoughts On The NFL National Anthem Protests

"Oakland Raiders National Anthem Kneeling" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison
As a supporter of free speech and the first amendment, I fully respect the right that all NFL players and other professional athletes have, to take a knee in peaceful protest of what they perceive to be racism, police violence, injustice or oppression of minorities. Even though I believe their justification for the protest is severely flawed, I completely support their right to express their opinion.

What those players and coaches should acknowledge however, is that the team owners also have the same right to bench them or terminate their contract - not for protesting, but for doing something that owner believes hurts his team's brand.


Whether you like it or not, professional sports teams are businesses, and those team owners are in the business of making money and increasing the value of that business. So if they believe someone on the team is causing ticket sales or advertising dollars to decrease, they have a duty to remedy the situation, even if that means losing someone who otherwise might be an asset to the team. Remember, the Cowboys haven't won a Super Bowl since 1996, but they are still the most valuable team in the NFL. This just serves as proof that the value of a team is not directly related to their record.

The first amendment protects your right to speak freely without being arrested for what might be seen as controversial or unacceptable. It does not however, protect you from being fired, or suffering other consequences. And whether you like it or not, this is the same thing that protects the rights of Nazis and the KKK to march down the street waving swastika flags. They too, have every right to express their hate-filled opinions without legal repercussions. But, they should not be surprised if they lose their job when their employer finds out they are affiliated with a hate group.

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I am a huge Cowboys fan. I have been watching them since I was a young kid, and as of this moment, the Cowboys are one of the only NFL teams that has thus far not had a player participate in some sort of National Anthem protest. Up until today, this made me proud to be a diehard Cowboys fan. However, there are reports that in tonight's game, some of the Cowboys players will be participating in some form of protest. Although it has currently not been made clear whether this will be in the form of them taking a knee, raising a fist, or something else.

Let me be clear; every player and coach in the NFL has the right to protest. But I have the same right to turn off my TV, cancel my satellite subscription, quit buying team-branded merchandise, and take the money I intended to pay to attend a Cowboys game this season and spend it instead on something else.

Considering how long I have followed the Cowboys, I have come to what might be a very difficult decision. If any Cowboys players in tonight's game choose to protest the National Anthem, I will immediately turn the game off. My hope is that Jerry Jones will either bench or fire any players who do participate. If those players are dealt with in what I consider to be an acceptable manner, I will continue watching the remainder of the season. But if Cowboys players protest the National Anthem and our flag, and they continue to play, I will not watch another game this season. Not because I am against free speech; but because it makes me sick to see this disrespect for a flag that so many men and women have died for.

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